Emotion and the new epistemic challenge from cognitive penetrability

Philosophical Studies 169 (2):257-283 (2014)
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Experiences—visual, emotional, or otherwise—play a role in providing us with justification to believe claims about the world. Some accounts of how experiences provide justification emphasize the role of the experiences’ distinctive phenomenology, i.e. ‘what it is like’ to have the experience. Other accounts emphasize the justificatory role to the experiences’ etiology. A number of authors have used cases of cognitively penetrated visual experience to raise an epistemic challenge for theories of perceptual justification that emphasize the justificatory role of phenomenology rather than etiology. Proponents of the challenge argue that cognitively penetrated visual experiences can fail to provide the usual justification because they have improper etiologies. However, extant arguments for the challenge’s key claims are subject to formidable objections. In this paper, I present the challenge’s key claims, raise objections to previous attempts to establish them, and then offer a novel argument in support of the challenge. My argument relies on an analogy between cognitively penetrated visual and emotional experiences. I argue that some emotional experiences fail to provide the relevant justification because of their improper etiologies and conclude that analogous cognitively penetrated visual experiences fail to provide the relevant justification because of their etiologies, as well.



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Jonna Vance
Northern Arizona University

References found in this work

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Ian Hacking.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas Samuel Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Otto Neurath.
Epistemology and cognition.Alvin I. Goldman - 1986 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

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